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Safety the name of the game for RAs

Senior Shane Gallagher is looking forward to starting the semester with the Mountainview College “King of the Mountain” competition, but, as a resident assistant (RA) in Marcy Hall, he has safety on his mind, too.

Gallagher and about 199 other RAs completed training this summer in a number of areas — fire safety, property protection, alcohol-related issues, common-sense issues, conflict resolution and more.
Jenny Rickard, Susquehanna resident director, said one focus of the training was how to deal with sexual assault issues. “We played the Consent Game, which uses different scenarios students might find themselves in, and participants hold up red, yellow or green cards to represent choices that could be made in those scenarios. Then we all discuss the decisions,” she said. “It gets students thinking about choices they make.”
Rickard said the RAs take several lessons away from the Consent Game. “There are always a variety of reactions,” she said. “But they all appreciate the magnitude and scope of the issue and they understand that it’s a much larger issue than any one person.”

Veline Rosario, an RA in Susquehanna’s Brandywine, said the discussion at the end of the game was educational. “They kept repeating that the lack of a no doesn’t mean yes and there are consequences to your decisions, but there are also resources to help,” she said.

As third-year RAs, Gallagher and Rosario think of their summer training as ongoing professional development.

“It teaches you all kinds of programming and to think outside the box,” Rosario said. “I’m already brainstorming ideas for programming — something for international students and a program with University Police on sexual assault to help students protect themselves.”

Rosario will deal with different dynamics in her apartment-style community than Gallagher will in his suite-style building. Getting to know residents is more difficult in apartment and suite-style housing than in other housing styles, they agreed, but both have learned how to reach out successfully.

“You just have to put more effort into pulling residents out of their rooms,” Gallagher said. Like with the “King of the Mountain” competition.

Throughout all of the training, whether it’s learning to use a fire extinguisher in a smoky hallway or learning how the judicial process works on campus, there’s an emphasis on good judgment.

“We’re trying to encourage them to make good decisions and to be educational at every level,” Rickard said.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08